Thursday, May 28, 2009

Components of a good blog tour

More and more authors are relying on blog or virtual book tours to present their books to the public, for several reasons including the high cost of traveling for personal, physical book tours.

I've taken part in several blog or virtual book tours, including a couple for my own books. I've followed other people's tours and been a part of blog tour groups. Some tours were more successful than others. Some stops attracted readers more than others. So what made some tours or some stops better?

1. The tour is well organized. Not only does the organizer prepare the compete tour well, with a mixture of hosts, providing the needed information such as book cover images, photo of author, and book information; but each host prepares the stop at his/her blog well with interesting, unique posts.

The organizer has reminded hosts of their day for a stop at least three times before the scheduled stop, including the day before.

2. Each stop on the tour is not a repeat of other stops. People find the blog stops interesting enough to want to follow the tour, or at least more than one visit at one stop.

3. All hosts post on their blogs on the correct day and all day. They schedule the post to appear very early the morning of the day scheduled.

4. Authors visit and leave comments, answer questions, and make observations at each stop several times during the day.

5. The host visits and leaves comments and observations several times during the day.

6. Both organizer and hosts promote the tour and its stops. Each host promotes the stop at his/her blog at least the day before and several times during the day of the stop. Then he/she promotes the stop after his/hers.

The organizer starts promotion for the complete tour at least a week before it starts and promotes each stop each day of the schedule. Promote, promote, promote.

7. The organizer, author, and/or hosts offer something to visitors who leave comments. It may be a PDF of a short story by the author or puzzle or even a copy of the book. Imagination is vital.

Email addresses are not required to be posted for someone to be considered for whatever is gifted or awarded. (note: this is a privacy subject. Ways of contacting can be found that do not require a person to post anything publicly.)

8. The host makes leaving a comment easy for the visitor. Moderation is eliminated at least during the tour stop. Some people can't "see" the symbols, letters, etc. required for a person to copy in order to leave a comment.

9. The author thanks the hosts (and the organizer if the author doesn't do the job).

10. The tour is fun.

I'm sure there are other components that would make a blog tour a good one, but those are the ones that have been most prominent in blog tours I've followed.

Please feel free to share what you discovered that makes a successful book blog tour, or what ruins one.



unwriter said...

I agree with these. I've hosted many authors and I try to do it as an interview and often I have a review of the book to post prior to the VBT. Today I'm doing it backwards because of time constraints on my end. I try to make my questions unique and fun and these are given to the author as much in advance as I can so we can discuss/change the questions.

Amber said...

Those are some good tips, Vivian!

carla stewart said...

Great tips, Vivian, esp. about the reminders and the follow-up. I've partcipated in many blog tours and I like any kind of unique twist. Loved the puzzle idea. Book giveaways are fun or something related to the book. Also interviews with a few "fun" questions thrown in. Reviews are great. You can leave an email in the comments section that potential scammers can't pick up. Here's what I recommend on my blog.
carla(dot)stewart(at)sbcglobal(dot)net. It saves having to hunt down the addresses if you host a giveaway.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Great tips! Sometimes the host can make it just as challenging, so thanks for stating tips that apply to them as well.

L. Diane Wolfe

Vivian Zabel said...

Thanks for adding your comments.

The idea of using interviews and reviews is a good one, as long as the interview or review isn't just like the one(s) found on another blog. I'm on a "make it unique" kick.

Thanks, Carla, for the adding email trick.

Helen said...

It really helps for the visiting author to stop in several times on the day of their post and leave comments for those who commented on the post or to answer questions. I'm finding a lot of authors I host never come by. It makes the post very stagnant and it's rather like having a poster up in a store but no author there.
Straight From Hel

Vivian Zabel said...

Yes, Helen, and that's why I suggest (strongly suggest) that authors, as well as hosts, visit the blog several times during the day to leave comments.

I've wonder at times why I bothered to "host" an author, when said author never visited, much less said boo. Ish.

Donna M. McDine said...

Hi Vivian:

All terrific points. Especially, make your visit fresh from others. We don't want to bore people following the tour. I have definitely found if the guest author does not stop in to make comments and answer questions traffic is down considerably. Make sure of course, when promoting the virtual tour, it is noted the author will be checking in to field questions and to comment to visitors.

Best wishes,

elysabeth said...

Good job, Vivian. Having just done a workshop on hosting a virtual tour - some things I think that are helpful are making sure the hosts have everything they need before the tour - at least a week before the tour starts.

Making it fun and interactive is the only way to really have a successful tour.

and a trick for making sure you follow the tour to know when new comments are being posted - when on blogger - if you hit preview comment - check the box that allows you to receive email notifications when new comments are added after yours (so as the guest you want to make sure you stop in early in the day and leave a first comment to be able to pop back in later after one or several comments. The host shouldn't have to worry that you aren't getting notifications of the comments and shouldn't have to send them to the guest as they come in.

In wordpress, there is now a box at the bottom saying to get email notifications of updates or something - remember to check that box.

I also think it is important for the guest to present the host with a gift of some sort - doesn't have to be expensive but as long as it is a thank you gift - which can be done at the end of the tour - send out all the gifts and/or prizes at once or can be done before the tour starts.

Carla, the puzzle is kind of my thing since I'm doing children's books about the fifty states and I have found some USA map puzzles at the Dollar tree and they are related to my stories - so I use those as awards for winning some of my state related games I do at book signings and I use them for my drawings on my blog tours, among other things -

See you all in the postings - E :)

Heidiwriter said...

Vivian, great points, and I agree with the rest of the comments. I just completed my first blog tour and I've had a great time. It IS a lot of work, but so is a "reality" tour,which I'm going on right now! We'll see which one is most effective Grin.

Another point is when researching hosts, try to find those with lots of hits each day.


Vivian Zabel said...

Yes, having blog tour stops on blogs with lots of hits is good. However, one time, the host who had the most hits never made an appearance or left a comment,even when I thanked her at the end. I had the least amount of good results from that stop, too.

Traffic is good, of course, but traffic with strong results is the best.

ChrisChat said...

Thanks, Vivian. Having done a couple, hosting that is, I'm still a little confused as to what to do to make my stop different.

Not too different just having something new to add for the follower and the person I'm hosting.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post and good points - all of which I agree with - for making a successful virtual tour.

The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

Vivian Zabel said...

For hosts, some ideas to make a blog stop different:

Interview a character from the author's book. The questions would have to be phrased as if that character would be answering them.

Have a character "write" a post, to guest blog.

Ask questions such as
What if the antagonist were different, stronger, more likable than the protagonist - what would that do to the plot?

Ask the author to write a short article that would link to his/her book, or you write a short article that would link to the book.

Ask the author which character or characters where his/her favorite and why.

Just a few ideas.

Oh, and be sure to have links to the author's blog and website and where to purchase the book. It's very easy to embed links, too, and the post looks much neater and nicer.

Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

Hey, Vivian,

You have a great list here. What I would add is for hosts to take a few extra minutes to make sure they present their guests with some freshness - maybe add a unique/personal lead-in. Make sure you include a jpg of the book oover and if space allows (or on the second day) a jpg of the author. Post as if it is your own book your promoting!

Also, hosts who preschedule their posts need to check them to make sure they posted without a glitch - this should be done the first thing in the morning.

Finally, if you're a host and for some reason can't follow through, let your host or organize know as soon as possible.

As you said in your post, everyone involved needs to PROMOTE!


Charlotte Phillips said...

I would add to find a variety of blogs. If all are sites that regularly host authors or aim at a specific kind of reader, it gets boring for people to follow the tour.
Heidi recently did a great job of mixing up the sites - she used author friendly sites, reading sites, horse sites, western history sites... you get the picture. Each stop reflected the personality of the site, which worked to keep things interesting. Marvin did something different at one of his sites...can't remember - did the character interview Marvin? It was entertaining. And Beth Groundwater visited a gift basket site and talked about an ideal gift basket - a great stop for her because her protagonist makes gift baskets.

Be creative. Do something you haven't seen done a thousand times before. Remember you are trying to interest people in your book, so always ask the host to provide a buy link.


Vivian Zabel said...

I know when I'm the guest, I always send my blog URL, website URL, Publisher's URL, and buying info.

I also ask for that info when I'm hosting someone. However, I don't get it from everyone. In which case I do my best to find the information I can.

Some authors do not have a website, which is a shame. Some don't have a blog. Some don't give publisher information. The name of the publisher, if it isn't one well known, doesn't help the host find links to the publisher. Some don't provide information so someone can buy the book.

What a shame.

Joyce Anthony said...

Great advice, Vivian-I know you are a wonderful guest-I'm still working on my hosting role :-) Thanks for the advice! It is copied and saved for me to go over again!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

These are all great ideas. I'm filing them for the future. I've had fun letting my characters talk or be interviewed, even the animals.


Vivian Zabel said...

I so appreciate everyone who stopped by and let comments and their suggestions.

Thank you.

Experience the Emotion
mystery - romance - life

Deb Hockenberry said...

Great tips, Vivian! I'll keep these in mind.

Beth Bence Reinke said...

Wow, Vivian, there is so much to learn. I'm trying to be like a sponge and absorb everything I can for when it's my turn. :o)

Thanks for the great information!

Vivian Zabel said...

Beth, we all have a first time. Any help is worthwhile, because learning from others is often easier on us. *smile*

Rena said...

Thanks, Vivian, and everyone else who replied so far. I'm preparing my blog tour right now, so this is really helpful.

I agree about each stop being different. I've seen some where the same thing is basically posted and that makes it a little dull.

I hope I can make mine interesting enough for people to follow. Not everyone likes rats -- ;)